Railwatch: US$7 Billion HSR?
Does anyone know why the rail link from Nongkhai to Vientiane just doesn't seem to have a chance to get finished in the near future?
After all, the facts are not that unfavourable towards a completion:
-It's a mere 16 km or so from the Friendship Bridge to the capital.
-They already provided a rail on the bridge when constructing it.
-Laos could have its first railway line ever.
-It would facilitate travel (well, not dramatically, of course) and boost tourist arrivals (not that the Lao government is overly interested in doing that, though - they appear rather indifferent, neither encouraging nor discouraging foreign visitors).
-Thailand has relatively good relations with Laos (at least when compared to Burma or Cambodia...) Can't they just get together and reach an agreement?
-Sure it's a poor country, but I guess a project like this could easily attract international financial support.
OK, I can understand it's not a top priority, but it is sad for a railway enthusiast to see that line end so short of Vientiane........
P.S. As to the "first railway in Laos", I once saw in a documentary that under the French colonial rule, there used to be a very short rail track across one Mekhong island in the Siphandone area (in the far South of Laos) to facilitate the transportation of goods between the western and eastern banks, but I don't want to count that one as a real railway line. (It's been out of service for many decades, but some remnants can still be found, including some overgrown rails and a rusting narrow-gauge steam engine, I think.)
Last edited by GWR; 17-02-08 at 12:20 AM.
The following are from SRT Website:
Friendship Bridge - Tha Nalaeng Project (3.5km)
So far, the estimated construction cost is 6.827 million US$
(excluded the signal systems) - about 270 million Baht ->
However, Lao Governemtn said they should cut down
to the level not exceed 200 million Baht. Which has come
up with the result that :
"2 detour rails at Tha Nalaeng must be omitted ->
cutting down the estimated cost to 185 million Baht
(4.032 million US$) "
this result has been delivered from SRT to Lao Railway
Authority (LRA) on May 15, 2003.
Now, if Lao Railway Authority accepted this condition,
the bidding will be called .... and construction wll be started ...
oh. i didn't even know that this project exist.
But i think it will surely boost toursim between the two countries.
Thanks, Khun Wisarut.
But where is Tha Nalaeng? And why only 3.5 km? So it is not planned to continue to Vientiane?
But at least there's already a "Lao Railway Authority" - how encouraging!
Tha Nah Laeng is the main pier and the main checkpoint in
Lao side - for the ferry from Tha Sadej (the Main Checkpoint
and Ferry Pier in Nong Khai) as well as for the vans that
go from Thai side. Usually, people will make a border passes in Nong Khai and then ride a van to go across Friendship Bridge
to Tha Nah Laeng.
After reaching Tha Nah Laeng, people will have to hire
a Skylab Samlor (a moroized Trishaw) to reach downtown Viangchan - 500 Baht for each Samlor car whcih can carry about 10 passengers. In the past, Lao governemtn have imposed
"Entering Tax" -> but now they have exempt such kind of tax
for those senior people (65 years or more) and Children (12 years or less).
The reason for such kind of arrangement for border
crossing ise due to the fact that Lao government wants
to RESTRICT Thai influence to flood into Laos more that
the allowable level. Well, those in Politburo have to rely on
ITV (from Thai side) to see the world as well as the fighting
at Chong Mek Checkpoint in Ubon ... The kids also watch
Thai TV channels to see what's cool today ... The housewifes
also watch those soap opera .... etc etc .... Even though the
TV signal from Lao TV can be received in Nong Khai .... only
a few people watch Lao channel .... except in the case of
boat competition alogn the Mekhong or so ...
Furthermore, Lao government are in financial trouble
... some even go to produce speed pills as well as allow
Red Wah to transport speed pills to earn more hard currency
... The Mekhong Patrol Units (a combined unit of Royal Thai
Navy, Immigration Office, and Poilice) has seizzed speed pills
as well as contrabands from lao side several times ...
Only when Lao governemnt has much healthier finacial stability that they will ask for more extension to downtown Viangchan.
yeah, of course I know the checkpoint. I have entered Laos via the Friendship Bridge twice (and through Chong Mek once, and come back through Nongkhai, Mukdahan and Nakhon Phanom, respectively). But I never heard the name Tha Nalaeng before.
And sure, all Lao people watch Thai TV all the time. (At least where they can receive it, maybe not in remote mountain regions.) Nobody wants to see their own boring state television program. The good point is that most of them learn to speak Thai through this. (The two languages are very closely related anyway.)
But what is that story about "fighting in Chong Mek" that you mentioned? I have no idea what you mean. Maybe I missed out on something in the news?
Yesterday's Bangkok Post (13 March 2004) carried the following article:
RELATIONS WITH LAOS
B185m support for stalled Lao railway project
"Thailand has agreed to support a long-delayed railway project in Laos to connect its capital Vientiane with the northeastern province of Nong Khai, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said.
"Financial support from Thailand is worth 185 million baht, 30% in the form of grants and the rest soft loans. Laos will lay tracks from the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to Vientiane. [How can they do that? They have no experience at all with railways. It will rather be done by a Thai company, I guess......]
"The agreement will be signed by the countries' finance ministers during a joint cabinet meeting on March 20 in Ubon Ratchathani and Champasak."
Unfortunately, no time plan for the construction was mentioned.
And a question: If this is the same 185m budget as for the 'Tha Nalaeng project', will the tracks really go all the way to Vientiane???
Tha Nalaeng is the 1st phase and Viangchan Central Station is the next since Lao governemnt is cash strapped so they ask the loan only about 200 million Baht at the time being. Probablky, Lao govenremtn will ask Italian Thai Development PCL to handle this job. They will eventually reaches Vientchan whne Lao governemtn borrow more money.
BTW, the extyimated cost for this railway is about 60 million Baht/km thus you could guess how much does it cost to
construct the new railway line.
Has there been any progress on this project after the signing of the contract?
I'm heading to Vientiane this weekend via the Friendship Bridge so I'll see if I can see construction in progress. I'm not holding my breath though
Eagerly awaiting your report, jpatokal! Haven't been there (and to Laos in general) since December 2002....
when you pass the friendship bridge, please have a look at the road. I am not shure, (because it was always dark when I passed the bridge) but I think, in the middle of the road are the rails installed and on the Thai side connected with a switch. But than very clever people had mounted between the rails the crash barrier for the cars. I think the rails are ending at the crosspoint where the change is from left-side driving to right-side driving.
But I am not quite shure!
Two years ago I saw in Vientiane in the quarter behind the Vietnamese embassy a big sign at a house, showing that there was the office for Laos railway construction.... I hope, they are strong and hard working.
Three weeks ago I have visited in Si Pan Don area the islands Don Kon and Don Det. The two lokomotives are still there, but one is only a fragment, laying at the southern end of the line.
The better lokomotive is standing 200m south of the bridge connecting the two islands.
Have a nice trip to Laos. Klaus
Nothing to report, I'm afraid: no sign of any construction at either end, and I couldn't even see the rails. I wasn't looking very hard though, since this was my first time crossing the Mekong...!
Originally Posted by ncr
I liked Vientiane quite a bit, but it's not exactly a mass transit freak's paradise. But Beerlao and sunsets over the Mekong make up for it!
Now. Thai Railfan has takem a photograph fo the railway from Nong Khai to the Friendship Bridge ... Take a look here:
Railway from Nong Khai to Talad Nong Khai
Railway from Nong Khai to Friendship Bridge
Nice. (Though it's not nice that no trains are traveling on these tracks....) So we can see that the rails end at the borderline in the middle of the bridge, not at the crossing point from left-side to right-side driving.
Originally Posted by Wisarut